Developing a SaaS product requires a lot of hard work — but figuring out the steps you need to take and the things you need to consider won’t be with this helpful guide. Given the investment in both time and money that the development of a SaaS application requires, it’s wise to create a detailed plan that outlines your product’s design and development phases, testing process and feedback procedures.
Explore the key considerations and steps for launching a SaaS product.
1. Develop your MVP.
What is an MVP for SaaS startups?
A minimum viable product (MVP) is a simplified version of your SaaS application that focuses on core functionality to test the product’s idea and foundational features. This version of your application helps validate your SaaS product through testing. The insights you gain from testing can also help guide the direction of the product’s functionality and features. If you’re a non-technical founder that seeks to develop an MVP, explore our complete guide to developing an MVP before you get started.
What are the benefits of developing an MVP for SaaS startups?
Because the process of developing an MVP is iterative, you’re able to identify user pain points through research and develop functionality that meets those needs. Over time, you can adapt your product and its features as you acquire new insights and feedback. Gradually understanding what users need is helpful, as it allows you to iterate slowly and learn more with each iteration, ensuring that all features and functionality serve your customers’ needs. Learn more about the benefits and process in our helpful blog post on planning your MVP’s roadmap.
What features should be included in an MVP?
You may have a concrete idea of what your SaaS product will look like once it’s complete, but identifying its core functionality is a necessary process in the development of an MVP. By assessing what features the user will need to complete the product’s main task or service, you’ll be able to create a version of your product that performs its most necessary functions to aid with testing and iterating. Read this insightful blog post to help you decide on your SaaS MVP’s features.
Perform user research to define your MVP.
User research and testing will help you develop a SaaS product that performs as users expect it to work and function, enhancing the user experience and increasing your chances of success. There are many considerations you’ll need to take into account, such as when you test, who you test, and how you test users. Uncover the steps you’ll need to take to define your SaaS product’s testing plan.
Define your SaaS product’s launch strategy.
Launching and testing require the recruitment or acquisition of users; therefore, many of the tactics used to validate your SaaS application’s MVP can also be used to market the product during its launch. Building a SaaS product is a large investment, so having a plan to launch your application is critical to its success. Leverage these nine ideas to validate and launch your SaaS product.
Avoid these common mistakes while building your MVP.
Developing an MVP requires a lot of time and money. Save both by making sure you don’t make these typical mistakes:
1. Trying to do everything at once. Focus on one single platform instead.
Don’t try to build your MVP for multiple devices and systems. Instead, focus on the device that your target market is most likely to use when interacting with your SaaS MVP. For example, professionals would be most likely to use an application on their desktop, so you would likely want to focus on a web-based MVP if that’s your target market. While a mobile version might be convenient and desired, most professionals will be completing the majority of their tasks from a workspace rather than on the go, so it would be important to start there when developing your MVP.
2. Trying to offer too many features. Focus on one thing instead.
Attempting to appeal to many users with features that address less important needs will leave you with a bloated, complicated product. It’s better to be niche, as focusing on a certain audience will allow you to solve a problem for a specific group of users, thus streamlining your SaaS MVP. You want to build your MVP to address the main task that users need or want to complete when using your product to gain further insights into the required features and functionality. By adding too many features, your testing efforts not only lose focus, but you’re also likely to have wasted time and money developing elements that aren’t needed or don’t function as desired by the users.
3. Not knowing your customer — or competition.
You must know who your target market is so you can understand the problems you need to solve in order to attract them as users. You’ll also need to research existing products to see if they address the issues you are trying to solve and evaluate if they’re lacking certain features or functionality. In doing competitive research, you’ll also want to assess if there is an overlap between your product’s intended users and your competitors’ existing users. If you aren’t trying to acquire the same users, you can remain confident that your SaaS MVP won’t face much competition at launch.
2. Test your SaaS MVP.
Explore the benefits of MVP testing.
Having real users test your SaaS MVP will ensure that you’ve effectively solved their problems and that the product is viable. By testing your MVP, you’ll also likely find unconsidered issues and hidden bugs that need to be addressed. Testing will help your company save money, as you’ll be able to deliver a product that provides users with an optimal experience at launch. Learn how to define your testing plan so you can ensure that your SaaS product is viable.
Perform user acceptance testing.
You’ll need to plan ahead before performing user acceptance testing. This process will help you determine if your product meets end-users’ requirements. Be sure to take these considerations into account before testing your SaaS product and evaluating if its core idea is launch-ready or if you need to pivot.
Test your SaaS MVP without breaking the bank.
Testing often gets a bad rap for being expensive — especially when you’re doing everything you can to maximize your investment before launching. But, there are economical ways to test your SaaS application. Use these seven easy, low-cost ideas to get valuable user insights into your SaaS MVP to make sure that you’re developing a viable product.
3. Define success for your SaaS MVP.
“It’s important to determine how you’ll measure the success of your SaaS MVP to ensure that you’re working towards hitting those goals and implementing tactics and strategies to meet them. Having clearly defined benchmarks will help guide your efforts. You may want to focus on these key performance indicators (KPIs):
Simple to measure, signups clearly indicate that your product is successful in solving users’ problems. This KPI is measured by the number of new user registrations that have occurred during a select period. Offering discount codes, free trials or other exclusive offers are all tactics your startup can use to bolster signups.
A vital indicator of a product’s utility is engagement within the application. Application stickiness is directly tied to customer loyalty, making this an important metric to track regularly. You can assess user engagement by analyzing the number of repeat logins over a particular duration of time and the average session times.
3. Customer feedback
Gathering customer feedback will provide your startup with valuable insights into how you can improve your product. When you launch your SaaS application, it’s imperative that you provide a means for users to provide feedback, ideally within the application itself. Solutions like Qualaroo or User Voice allow you to collect all feedback, queries and issues in one central location.
4. Organic growth
Many startups focus on fast growth via paid advertising when launching their products, but the sooner you invest in growing your organic traffic and signups, the better. Focusing on organic growth will lead to sustained growth.
5. Funnel conversion
Understanding when users convert and how they were acquired will allow you to identify the most effective marketing tactics and channels. Gaining insights from this KPI will ensure that you can profitably scale your SaaS startup.”
4. Launch a successful SaaS MVP in 10 steps.
Developing an MVP allows you to analyze product assumptions and target users’ reactions to its core functionality. By starting with a simplified product, you can validate your application before investing a significant amount of time, money and resources into its complete development.
1. Perform user testing and conjoint analysis.
As outlined in this guide, user testing will provide your team with valuable insights to help guide the direction of your SaaS MVP. Gain an even better understanding of your users by also performing conjoint analysis research. This survey-based technique will inform you of how your users value features, functions, and benefits differently. If you identify that certain users are more desirable for your business, you can play up the attributes that they value most.
2. Simplify your offering with a “”less is more”” approach.
By focusing on the features that are necessary, important and unique, you’ll spend less time and money developing a product that offers helpful insights into users’ problems and expectations. However, this doesn’t mean making a crude product just to get something in front of users — it means developing a functional application in its most basic form that’s still intuitive enough to allow users to test it.
3. Define your freemium offering.
Providing a free version of your product can help you acquire new users and convert them to customers by selling them on premium features and benefits. If you market your application with a freemium offering, you’ll need to determine what simplified version of your product would still be useful and attractive to users so they sign up, but also would restrict them from enough of the premium features to incentivize them to pay for your product once they see its value.
4. Define your value proposition.
Having a clear value proposition will help you quickly communicate how your product is unique and more suitable than your competitors to your users. Define yours by concisely answering these questions:
• What do you do?
• Why do you do it?
• How do you do it differently?
5. Simplify the experience by focusing on the customer.
Thinking that everyone who has the problem your SaaS tool solves is a customer can lead to a complicated and inflated product. If you focus on everyone, you’ll have to appease a lot of needs and some of the features you would wind up developing may only be used by a few users. At Geekbears, we encourage entrepreneurs to focus on a specific audience and streamline their SaaS application to prioritize and meet its users’ core needs.
6. Set up a feedback mechanism.
You’ll want to empower users to submit tickets for bugs and errors within the system. It’s just as important to provide them with a means to offer their feedback on areas improvements so you can ensure that your SaaS product meets their needs and can evolve to exceed their expectations. Before launching, be sure that there’s a means for users to get support and provide feedback.
7. Define clear KPIs and success metrics.
By outlining the measures of success, you’ll be able to define strategies and execute tactics that help you achieve those goals. From signups to user engagement, determine what KPIs matter most to your company. This will set you on the right path to scaling your business.
8. Implement a referral mechanism.
Your current users are your best advertisers for your product — empower them to drive new user acquisitions through a referral program. Types of referral incentives that you may want to consider offering include:
• Cash (or in-app credit) incentives
• Reward points
• Commissions through affiliate programs
• Upgrades (e.g., more storage space, upgrade to a premium plan for a set duration of time for each new user referred, etc.)
9. Define your launch strategy.
While you’re developing your product, you also should create a launch strategy to market your SaaS application before and after launching it. Successfully launch your SaaS product with these nine cost-effective ideas that will help you generate awareness and acquire new users.
10. Get your SEO and content strategy ready.
Set your company up for scalable, exponential growth by investing in generating organic search traffic through optimizing your website from the onset and implementing an SEO-driven content strategy. To develop a content strategy for your startup, you’ll want to consider the keywords your target audience would use to search for your SaaS product and their intent when using those specific keywords. Create content that uses targeted longtail phrases around those topics to attract new users at various stages of the funnel.
From documenting the prioritization of features to outlining your testing plan to developing your go-to-market strategy, launching a SaaS product that solves users’ problems and continues to attract new customers takes careful planning at all stages. Following the steps outlined in this guide will provide you with a clear roadmap that spans from the day your project kicks off to well after launch day.
At Geekbears, we’re passionate about creating and launching top-notch SaaS products. Having previously founded startups and launched similar applications ourselves, our software development agency can help you plan, design, develop and successfully launch a SaaS tool that grows your businesses.